Ex-'GMA' Producer Shelley Ross Claims She Was Sexually Harrassed by Roger Ailes
"It is difficult to reconcile the two Rogers."
Add veteran newswoman and former Good Morning America executive producer Shelley Ross to the list of women who have claimed they were sexually harassed by former Fox News CEO Roger Ailes.
In a lengthy essay for the Daily Beast posted Monday, Ross writes that Alies once proposed a "sexual alliance" with her. Ailes recently stepped down from Fox News, the network he founded, after being accused of sexual harassment by numerous women.
The Ross incident happened in the early 1980s when she was in talks to join NBC's The Tomorrow Show and met with Ailes, the show's executive producer, for lunch after accepting the job offer, she wrote.
“'When did you first discover you were sexy?' Roger began. My head suddenly dropped like a marionette and I could no longer make eye contact," Ross wrote. "I could only manage to stare at my feet as I answered, "'I am finding this conversation very embarrassing.'”
Ross said she hoped Ailes would pick up on her being uncomfortable, but he pressed on, she wrote.
"Roger was very persistent as he continued to explain how much he believed in loyalty and how much he believed the best expression of that loyalty comes in the form of a 'sexual alliance,'" Ross wrote. "This was not a romantic or flirtatious conversation. 'Predatory' is not quite accurate either. Roger expressed a true philosophical conviction that this would be mutually beneficial for us both, that he was looking for a partnership and it was somewhat special that he had chosen me."
After she once again spurned his advances, Ailes, Ross claims, "suggested I hold off with business affairs."
Ross went to the NBC lawyers and Ailes apologized, she said, writing of her next meeting with a groveling Ailes: “'Please forgive me, forgive me, this must be middle age craziness. I can’t believe what I did, how I spoke to you. Please come to work for me and you can be assured there’s one problem we’ll never have. You still are the best candidate for the job,'” Ailes told Ross then, she claims. "We spoke at length and even though I knew he had three high-powered attorneys with a gun to his head, I believed he was genuinely sorry."
Ross and AIles would go on to know each other for many years, she wrote.
"Roger cheered each of my promotions, then consoled me when I was pushed out of my executive suite at ABC News after 17 great years," Ross said. "During the summer of 2012, Roger phoned me to say he was recommending me for a big job — to run CNN. (The job went to Jeff Zucker, who then quickly took over the job of the man who hired him.) That same year, when Roger learned I was battling cancer, he sent me a giant basket from Rao’s containing six pastas and six different sauces. He enclosed a personal note to my husband that if he (Roger) could figure out how to cook the contents of the package, so could David. We had not worked together in 31 years. It is difficult to reconcile the two Rogers."
Ross concluded her piece, in which she spoke about other times she was sexually harassed in the workplace throughout her career, not just by Ailes, by recommending what Fox News' next steps should be in this important matter.
"Fox News should take the lead in a kind of sexual harassment Truth and Reconciliation project. I’ll help organize it," Ross wrote. "It would be offered as the one chance in a lifetime to let all victims at Fox News tell their stories, either in writing or on tape, without coming under attack. At the same time, it would give perpetrators and enablers an opportunity to confess and seek forgiveness without retribution."